Docudharma Times Monday March 17

Lower the curtain down in memphis,

Lower the curtain down all right.

I got no time for private consultation,

Under the milky way tonight.

Monday’s Headlines: U.S. may be just at midpoint in Iraq: Fed Acts to Rescue Financial Markets: Death, destruction and fear on the streets of cafes, poets and booksellers: Iran poll delivers challenger to president: Ex-policemen jailed for journalist’s murder:  UN police retake Kosovo’s court: Major Stock Markets in Asia Tumble: China plays victim for its audience: Mexico City: A sea of Juarez streets:  First coca find in Brazil Amazon: Tunisia hostage deadline extended

Midnight ultimatum for Tibet showdown

The only Western journalist in Lhasa reports from a city gripped by fear

Last night I gazed out over a deserted city. After two days of deadly riots and arson attacks, the people of Lhasa hunkered down before a midnight deadline and a feared military crackdown.

Rubble and burnt-out vehicles littered the streets, but few people dared to set foot in the narrow and winding alleyways, fearful of turning a blind corner and running into an army patrol. Only the occasional gunshot rang out over the city, the whoops and cheers of the rioters silenced. Amid claims that many people have been killed in the most dramatic backlash against Chinese rule for almost 20 years, a showdown looms tonight. The rioters must turn themselves in by midnight or face the consequences.


U.S. may be just at midpoint in Iraq

WEST POINT, N.Y. – An American father agonizes as his son prepares for a second tour in Iraq. Baghdad morgue workers wash bodies for burial after a suicide attack. Army cadets study the shifting tactics of Iraqi insurgents for a battle they will inherit.

Snapshots from a war at its fifth year. Each distinct yet all linked by a single question: How much longer?

Fed Acts to Rescue Financial Markets

WASHINGTON – Hoping to avoid a systemic meltdown in financial markets, the In a third move aimed at helping banks and thrifts, the Fed also lowered the rate for borrowing from its so-called discount window by a quarter of a percentage point, to 3.25 percent.Federal Reserve on Sunday approved a $30 billion credit line to engineer the takeover of Bear Stearns and announced an open-ended lending program for the biggest investment firms on Wall Street.

Middle East

Death, destruction and fear on the streets of cafes, poets and booksellers

To mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, the award-winning journalist returns to the city where he was born and lived for 30 years

Baghdad was never a beautiful city. A sprawling sea of low rise, dusty concrete cubes with few green spaces, it is a typical Middle Eastern architectural disaster, expanding without any real urban planning from the 1950s. But if you knew the city you could find your corners: a narrow, zigzagging alleyway, an Ottoman courtyard, the shade of a lemon tree in spring.

One of my favourites was the Mutanabi book market. The cafes and teahouses lining the old street had became a hangout for journalists, poets and artists, and with them had come the book market. It was here that I used to buy my illegal photocopies of Marx’s Communist Manifesto – in Arabic – and Orwell’s 1984.

Iran poll delivers challenger to president

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor

Monday, 17 March 2008

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has suffered a setback with the election to parliament of the former nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, a personal enemy who challenged him in 2005’s presidential election.

Mr Larijani won a landslide victory in the holy city of Qom in last Friday’s election, winning more than 70 per cent of the vote. He is now a favourite to become the parliament’s speaker as his alliance of “pragmatic conservatives” has cut into the parliamentary majority of Mr Ahmadinejad’s supporters. It has also placed Mr Larijani in pole position for another run against Mr Ahmadinejad in the presidential election next year.


Ex-policemen jailed for journalist’s murder

Three former police officers have been jailed for the murder of a crusading journalist in a case that implicated the former President of Ukraine and led ultimately to the Orange Revolution.

Heorhiy Gongadze, who exposed high-level corruption in Ukraine, was kidnapped and his headless corpse dumped in a forest outside Kiev. His head has never been found.

The murder in 2000 prompted mass protests against President Kuchma. Public outrage intensified after a former presidential bodyguard released secret recordings of what he claimed was Mr Kuchma ordering the killing. A parliamentary committee also accused Mr Kuchma of involvement months before a rigged election sparked the Orange Revolution against his chosen successor and swept President Yushchenko to power in 2004.

UN police retake Kosovo’s court

UN riot police have stormed a UN-run court in northern Kosovo, retaking it from Serbs who have forcibly occupied the building since Friday.

Some 100 police took part in the raid in the Serb-held part of the city of Mitrovica, arresting dozens of Serbs.

Reports say police later used tear gas at Serbs who gathered outside the building after the dawn operation.

Kosovo Serbs and Serbia have refused to recognise Kosovo’s declaration of independence last month.

Many of the protesters who seized the Mitrovica court last week are said to be former staff who lost their jobs in 1999 at the end of the war in Kosovo, when it came under UN administration.


Major Stock Markets in Asia Tumble

TOKYO – Major Asian stock markets fell sharply Monday as pessimism continued to spread despite the Fed’s dramatic moves over the weekend, sending Tokyo’s benchmark index to a three-year low.

The markets responded negatively to the purchase of Bear Stearns over the weekend by JPMorgan Chase. The acquisition, backed by the Federal Reserve, underscored the severity of the credit crisis in the United States and the weakness of the American economy.

In Tokyo, the region’s largest stock exchange, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index was trading at an almost three-year low. By midday, the index dropped 4.2 percent to 11,726.99, falling below 12,000 for the first time since August 2005.

China plays victim for its audience

Government media images of Tibetans as the aggressors stoke support at home.

LANZHOU, CHINA — Even as China faces global criticism for its crackdown on Tibetan Buddhists, it’s winning the battle that it most cares about: support for its policies among Chinese back home.

One key factor is a media strategy that, while still blunt and heavily reliant on censorship and propaganda, shows more nuance than usual for the lumbering Communist Party.

This last week the government has used something it traditionally viewed as a big negative, any suggestion that it’s not in total control, to its advantage by going large with print, still and video coverage of Tibetans attacking Han Chinese in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, and destroying their property.

Latin America

Mexico City: A sea of Juarez streets

There are 632 of them. Other popular names include Hidalgo (624 streets) and Zapata (500). But there is a certain charm here too, with streets named for lakes, volcanoes, flowers, even virgins.

MEXICO CITY — No matter where you drive in this megalopolis, it’s hard to miss Juarez Street. That’s because there are 632 of them. Hidalgo Street is almost as ubiquitous, with 624 incarnations. At least 500 streets are named Zapata.

But you can also find Sea of Tranquillity and Good Luck or, if those fail, Tequila. There’s a street called Disneyland and lots of Progress all over Mexico City’s sprawling traffic grid, if only lurching movement.

Among the few traffic-related charms of the car-choked capital city are the names of its 32,000 streets — 73,000 if you count the surrounding metropolitan area. Peruse the most popular street atlas here and you’ll encounter history and whimsy, the fanciful, the soaring and the clunky (Metallurgical Resources lands like lead, even in Spanish)

First coca find in Brazil Amazon

Coca plantations and a fully-equipped laboratory for making cocaine have been found for the first time in a Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest.

A senior army officer said the find might mean drug traffickers were trying to find new locations to grow coca.

The authorities would need to say on alert, he said.

The leaf, a key ingredient of cocaine, is normally grown in mountainous regions in some of Brazil’s neighbours such as Bolivia, Peru and Colombia.


Tunisia hostage deadline extended

Austria says al-Qaeda militants holding two tourists have agreed to extend a deadline, set for midnight on Sunday, for their demands to be met.

Al-Qaeda in North Africa is demanding Islamists held in Algeria and Tunisia be freed in exchange for Andrea Kloiber, 43, and Wolfgang Ebner, 51.

The pair, who went missing while on holiday in Tunisia last month, are said to be being held in Mali.

A senior Austrian diplomat is in Mali seeking their freedom.

Austrian public broadcaster ORF says the aim of the Austrian authorities is to get the hostage-takers to drop their demands for the prisoners’ release and concentrate on a ransom instead.


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    • on March 17, 2008 at 1:40 pm
    • RiaD on March 17, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    i hope you had a lovely monday!

    who/what is your quote from today? i don’t recognize it

  1. and the wide-spread support in China for a “crack-down” of the protesters in Tibet:

    • creeper on March 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Not a particularly cheerful start to the week but par for the course these days.

    Oh, you missed the allegation that the former governor of NJ had three-way sex with an aide and his wife.  Really important stuff, you know.  Gotta titillate John Q. to keep his mind off what really matters…that we’re headed for 4,000 dead soldiers in Iraq, probably this week, and our economy is in free-fall.  

    Some days I hate to wake up.  Happy St. Paddy’s day, anyway.

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